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Seeing You, Seeing Me

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Adena woke up in a bad way on the morning of her show at Hauser & Wirth in Chelsea, which is a pretty big score for the artist. Not only is it a prestigious gallery but also Adena’s first show in New York in some years.

“Babe, are you okay? It’s 7am”, Kat said while pushing herself up on her elbows, peaking over at Adena who had her back to her and seems to still be sleeping. Kat doesn’t remember Adena waking up to do her early morning prayer and had to switch off her girlfriend’s multiple alarms already. An inaudible noise could be heard coming from the petite woman and soon enough she turns to face Kat but with her eyes still closed.

“I’m not feeling well”

“Aaw babe, are you nervous about the show?”

“No, I’m just aching all over. And feeling nauseous. Want to sleep”, Adena replied in a groggy tone. Kat proceeded to check her temperature which made her shiver as the back of Kat’s hand was cold.

“You’re not running a temp and you were fine last night. Are you sure it’s not just nerves?”

Adena opens her eyes and gives Kat a look that she can’t read.

“Baby it’s not nerves, okay?”, Adena uttered abruptly as she attempts to sit up.

“Okay, well if you’re not feeling good, I guess I’m just going to have to bring our bed to the gallery like Diego did for Frida”

This made Adena chuckle and shake her head.

“What?”

Sitting up against their headboard, Kat starts explaining animatedly.

“You know, when Frida Kahlo had a private viewing of her first solo show - and sadly her last ever - in Mexico, she woke up in absolute pain and so her husband took her bed apart and set it up at the gallery, put it right in the middle among her work, she was then transported to the gallery by ambulance and it all worked out. Her show still went ahead and everyone got to see her and wish her well. She was just chillin’ in bed basking in the glory.”

“Baby you’re so random. And by the way, she wasn’t just “chillin’ in bed”, her last operation was super serious.”

“All her operations were super serious. But anyway, she was very doped up when she was at the gallery so she wasn’t feeling any pain, thus chillin’ in bed”

“You crazy lady”

“Hey, I just don’t want my lady to miss out on her big day”

“I didn’t know that you were so well versed on the life of Frida.”

Kat gasps and feigns offense.

“What...just because I’m not at the MoMA every other weekend or have my head stuck in some Taschen book doesn’t mean that I don’t know some artsy shit babe. Your girl knows a thing or two. Besides, Frida was a badass.”

“You continue to impress me Kat Edison”

Kat poses playfully then laughs.

“So, Adena El Amin, are you gonna tell me what’s going on? Or else I will be forced to test how achy that body really is”, she says flirtatiously.

“Seriously, my body does feel achy...but I guess it could be nervousness manifesting itself physically”

“So it IS nerves”

“It’s been a while since my last show. And, I don’t know. This project is very important to me.”

“This secret project that I have yet to get a glimpse of…”

“Hmm, maybe you seeing it is what I’m most nervous about”, Adena says while looking down at her hands, fidgeting with her nails.

“Okay, now I’m nervous”, Kat shifts so that her whole body is facing Adena. “Babe, why would you be nervous about ME of all people seeing it?”

“Because it is about you. About us.”

Adena looks up and stares intensely at Kat, which makes her swallow hard, and she can see that her mind is gearing into overdrive.

“It is nothing bad. But it is...full of reflections. Some truths that had been left unspoken.”

She grabs Kat’s closest hand and holds it with both of hers.

“The last time I had a show here was around the time of your election. Actually days after Scarlet had offered me the job and…”, Kat cuts in “and I told you that we couldn’t be together.”

“Yeah. That really threw me off. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understood where you were coming from but it somehow made me feel very unsure of myself. It felt like a sort of rejection and it did knock my confidence sideways, in a way that I totally didn't expect. And then it struck me that must have been how you felt after Paris.”

Kat places her free hand on top of Adena’s and strokes it repeatedly with her thumb as she usually does whenever she wants to comfort the artist, while also listening intently.

“That realisation just brought on this whole new wave of feelings that I couldn’t really focus on my show. I had people come up to me initiating these full blown conversations about my work, saying very flattering things, and I just stood there, looking blankly at them and they were so caught up with their own voices and opinions that I don’t think they noticed, well, I hope that they didn’t.”

“Babe, that show got rave reviews. Everyone that went had nothing but amazing things to say about it, and you.” Adena was pleasantly surprised to hear this.

“You checked the reviews?”

“Of course I did. Adena, whether we’re together or apart, I’ll always care greatly about your work. It’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with you. You have to know that. I was actually debating whether or not to go that night, and it sounds like it was best that I didn’t come.”

Adena looks down at their hands and exhales.

“Yeah, well…”

“What?”

“I left the show early and walked to your apartment. I don’t know why. I was just drawn there. I was across the street when I saw you getting out of a taxi, you looked drunk and just, not yourself. For some reason I took out my phone and started taking pictures of you.”

Kat furrows her brows then bursts into laughter, followed by Adena’s low chuckle.

“You little stalker!”, she quickly straightens up. “I’m sorry, carry on.”

“It’s okay, you can laugh, I know it sounds real stalker-ish. But that’s the thing with us, with you, I always find my way back, somehow. Sometimes literally.” She goes quiet for a couple of minutes and Kat gives her the time she needs. “Anyway, I saw you drop your keys and struggle to find them for what felt like minutes and I was so tempted to cross over and help you. And at one point you even looked over and I thought that you saw me, yet I didn’t even move. Seeing you in that state was as if I was seeing myself. You know, you looked exactly how I was feeling - minus the drunk part. That internal turmoil, I strangely felt so connected to you in a new way. I know this sounds crazy but I was reassured by that.”

Kat reaches over to cup Adena’s cheek and wipes the tears that were slowly rolling down. Adena hadn’t even realised that she had begun crying. She looks up at Kat and smiles shyly before continuing.

“I waited for you to get inside then I made my way to my apartment. I looked at the pictures that I took and started working on them that very night. That’s when this project really kicked off.”

“Wow, you’ve been sitting on it for this long? Why now?”

“I didn’t want it to be a reflection of a single moment. I knew that I wanted it to somehow narrate our story fully, our love, in all its complexities. In all its beauty. I had to figure out how to do that so I put it aside for a while. Plus, Jacqueline sent me on that assignment in Alabama then I came back, things got weird with us then hopeful, then you know, very intense and complicated with the whole Eva situation.” Kat’s body stiffens at the reminder and she clears her throat, battling the urge to pry her hands away from Adena’s as a defence mechanism but instead she holds on to her tighter and looks at Adena with a sad glint in her eyes. “I started working on it again shortly after we got back together 18 months ago. As a matter of fact, it was on the first night that you were at my apartment and”, Kat loosens up, wiggles her eyebrows and smiles brightly at the memory which makes Adena roll her eyes. “Andddd after we made love, you had fallen asleep and I was spooning you, I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror against the wall on your side of the bed. The shadows of the plants that were on the window sill fell perfectly against the bed sheet, and the street lights outside created this beautiful spotlight on our intertwined hands”

“Let me guess, you grabbed your camera from your bedside table?”

Adena laughs, “Of course. You know me so well Ms Edison”

"Thank God that I'm a heavy sleeper huh?", Kat leans forward and places a soft kiss on her girlfriend’s lips and retreats back.

“After that night, I would take pictures of random moments that felt fitting.”

“And here I was thinking you were just being you all this time.”

“Well you weren’t wrong. Me being me plays a part in our story, even as I tell it. In the pictures of just you, I have inserted myself either digitally, collage or with paint, forming a sort of shadow or mirroring you. Or just observing.”

“Observing she says, truly art imitating life. So it’s a multimedia project?”

Adena chuckles, “Yes.”

“Wow, the way you look so stunned right now. Told you, don’t underestimate me babe”

Adena reached over and brought Kat in to her, letting her head rest on her chest.

“I also added some poetry to each piece, some are my own, some are Rumi’s. Some are just sentences in Farsi, which I’m debating whether or not to have translations for underneath.”

“Well will you at least translate them for me?”

“Maybe. We’ll see. Kat, you should know that not all of the pieces are happy glorious moments. There will be a few that will make you uncomfortable. Like I said, some are truths that had been left unspoken. The conflicts, the disagreements, that big fight we had about marriage, that’s all in there.”

Kat pulls away and moves her body so that she is now straddling Adena.

“Babe, you don’t have to worry about me. You’re an artist and this is how you express yourself and unload to make sense of things, I get that. I mean, if only you knew how many tweets I had to delete from my personal account and let's not start on the amount of insta stories and posts that I posted just for you, well because of you", she says jokingly. "All I know is that I better see that sparkly ring on your finger somewhere in your show”, Kat says with a smirk on her face.

Adena laughs and shakes her head. “Yes. The moment that you proposed is featured actually. I asked Sutton for the picture and I painted it, with some additions. It shows both of us proposing to one another, sort of side by side. On the left is the original proposal and on the right is me proposing to you.”

“SPOILER ALERT! Hashtag blessed.” Adena moves closer so that she can wrap her arms around Kat’s waist and give her a tender kiss.

“I love you silly girl. And thank you for being patient and listening.”

“Oh, I figured it would be easier to do that than take apart our bed to bring to the gallery.”

Adena lets out a loud happy laugh and slaps Kat’s butt, “Why don’t you go get ready for work?”.

“Can you believe I am going to be late and it won’t be because we were having sex this time?”, she says as she makes her way off the bed.

“Well we could change that”

“Ah babe, although working for myself gives me such freedom, I probably should put in some serious hours since I’ll be tapping out early to get to your show. But fear not, tonight, me, you, this bed, it’s on.”

“Again.”

“Yes again, and every night for the rest of our life, wife.”

And with that, Kat walks to the bathroom and Adena lays back down with a smile on her face, feeling at peace, not an ache in her body.